Vietnam

A visit to Da Nang — a fantasticity of the Cham and charming dragons

Da Nang has its charms with blessings of natural beauty, historical background, monumental landmarks and influences from the ancient kingdom of Champa.

My Khe Beach, Da Nang, Vietnam. Photo by ED JUNAIDI/Gaya Travel Magazine

Da Nang has its charms with blessings of natural beauty, historical background, monumental landmarks and influences from the ancient kingdom of Champa.

Back in December 2022, Gaya Travel team visited Da Nang with AirAsia, the fifth largest city in Vietnam best known for its white sandy beaches, marble mountains, unique bridges, the ancient city of Hoi An, and dragons.

Da Nang is in central Vietnam, which was once a part of the ancient kingdom of Champa, a powerful empire that ruled over central and southern Vietnam from the 2nd until the 19th century, making Da Nang a destination rich in interesting landmarks and attractions, both historical and monumental.

The Cham people make up a significant part of Da Nang’s population and have ancestors who were skilled artisans and traders, thus their influence can still be seen in the city’s culture and architecture today.

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Da Nang is a fantastic coastal city and a tourism hub in central Vietnam possessing a combination of modern high rises with mountain ranges, rivers, and beaches as its backdrop, pulsating with city life that conforms to the culture and hospitality of Vietnam .

During Gaya Travel Magazine team’s visit to the city, it was rainy season, so showers were common; however, it did not stop us from exploring Da Nang’s monumental attractions.

Nevertheless, we advise that travellers plan accordingly when visiting Da Nang. Da Nang Department of Tourism recommends for travellers to come over between March and July.

During our visit, we had an opportunity to check out VITM Danang Fair 2022, organised by the Vietnam Tourism Association in a collaboration with Da Nang Department of Tourism from 9 until 11 December 2022 at Da Nang Exhibition & Convention Centre with the theme “Sea and Island Tourism – Strengths of Vietnam Tourism”.

Sunworld Ba Na Hills

Sun World Ba Na Hills - Photo by Danang FantastiCity
Sun World Ba Na Hills – Photo by Danang FantastiCity

Sunworld Ba Na Hills is a mountain resort about 45 minutes outside Da Nang city centre, well renowned for its gigantic cable car system, one of the most amazing we’ve seen anywhere in the world, with five cable lines and another in the works. 

The cable car ride takes around 25 minutes to climb more than 5 kilometres from the Hoi An Station at the bottom up to The French Village Station at the peak, which is located a thousand metres above sea level.

The Fantasy Park, Wax Museum, French Village, and the famed Golden Bridge are among the resort’s unique amusement park rides and attractions. 

Sun World Ba Na Hills - Photo by Danang FantastiCity
Sun World Ba Na Hills – Photo by Danang FantastiCity

The Golden Bridge attracts a lot of attention because of the incredible appearance of a gilded bridge seemingly held up by a pair of gigantic hands. Travellers can take in the breathtaking vista of Da Nang city from the bridge besides the surrounding mountains and hills.

Ba Na Hills Mountain Resort is home to a number of luxury hotels, restaurants, and spas too.

These attractions are all located in the French Village, a fantastic location at the top of the mountain, ideal for visitors wishing to rest and unwind in a lovely mountain setting while enjoying the cool air.

The French Village at Sunworld Ba Na Hills. Photo by ED JUNAIDI/Gaya Travel Magazine
The French Village at Sunworld Ba Na Hills. Photo by ED JUNAIDI/Gaya Travel Magazine

The view of the village in the morning is definitely a sight to behold because this is the time when it is shrouded in mist and fresh air.

This mountain resort is open all year round and can be reached by automobile or cable car from Da Nang.

Marble Mountains

One of the shrines in Marble Mountains. Photo by ED JUNAIDI/Gaya Travel Magazine
One of the shrines at Marble Mountains. Photo by ED JUNAIDI/Gaya Travel Magazine

Marble Mountains is a historical treasure trove as well as a natural wonder. It is also be a haven of spirituality for people seeking self-enlightenment.

These mountains were formed by five limestone peaks, each with a name inspired by the five elements: metal, water, wood, fire, and earth. The name of these elements are reflected from the visible colour of the steps.

The elevator to go to the top of Marble Mountains without hiking. Photo by ED JUNAIDI/Gaya Travel Magazine
The elevator to go to the top of the Marble Mountains without hiking. Photo by ED JUNAIDI/Gaya Travel Magazine

We recommend that travellers arrive at this site as early as 7:00 a.m. when the air is still cool, to climb the steps and paths through the mountains. To see all of the pagodas, shrines, and caves, visitors should plan on spending about two hours at this site. 

One of the pagodas here houses approximately 200 Buddha statues, and another was built nearly 400 years ago. 

One of the caves in Marble Mountains. Photo by Danang FantastiCity.
One of the caves in the Marble Mountains. Photo by Danang FantastiCity.

The Marble Mountains have a network of caves that are fascinating to explore. The largest, Huyen Khong, has witnessed historical events since the reign of Nguyen Dynasty King Ming Mang to the times of Vietnamese revolution.

One of the shrines is dedicated to the god and goddess of matchmaking, which is popular among couples and singles.

Marble Mountains is open daily from 7:00 a.m. until 5:30 p.m. and the entrance fee is VND40,000 per person. The elevator is VND15,000 per person.

Linh Ung Pagoda

Linh Ung Bai But Pagoda is a monumental landmark sitting on Son Tra Mountain. Photo by ED JUNAIDI/Gaya Travel Magazine
Linh Ung Bai But Pagoda is a landmark situated on Son Tra Mountain. Photo by ED JUNAIDI/Gaya Travel Magazine

Linh Ung Bai But Pagoda is a monumental landmark situated on Son Tra Mountain about a 20-minute drive from the city centre.

The Lady Buddha Statue is said to be the tallest in Vietnam and it is visible across the strait between the East Sea and Cu Lao Cham Island, a view that will leave travellers in awe. If you’re standing on My Khe Beach, across the strait, you could see the statue from afar.

The Lady Buddha Statue. Photo by ED JUNAIDI/Gaya Travel Magazine
The Lady Buddha Statue. Photo by ED JUNAIDI/Gaya Travel Magazine

The pagoda is a serene spot to take in the stunning views of Da Nang and its majestic mountainscape.

To the Buddhists, it is also a sacred place where the statue of Buddha Shakyamuni, Bodhisattva, and Tripitaka along with the four guardians guard the pagoda and the 18 Arhat statues. Each Arhat statue depicts the different levels of human emotions.

Linh Ung Bai But Pagoda. Photo by ED JUNAIDI/Gaya Travel Magazine
Linh Ung Bai But Pagoda. Photo by ED JUNAIDI/Gaya Travel Magazine

Since it is a place of worship, we advise travellers to wear modestly and behave respectfully.

Linh Ung Bai But Pagoda is open every day from 6:00 a.m. until 9:00 p.m. including Saturday and Sunday.

My Khe Beach

My Khe Beach. Photo by Danang FantastiCity.
My Khe Beach. Photo by Danang FantastiCity.

As a coastal city in Vietnam, Da Nang possesses stunning beaches along a 35-kilometre shoreline stretching from Hai Van Pass to Non Nuoc. 

My Khe Beach is located along this coastline and is a lovely stretch of white sandy beach with a moderate slope profile, soothing waves, and clean sea water throughout the year. The beach is approximately 10 kilometres long and provides beach bummers with a beautiful setting replete with coconut trees and blue skies.

My Khe Beach. Photo by ED JUNAIDI/Gaya Travel Magazine
My Khe Beach. Photo by ED JUNAIDI/Gaya Travel Magazine

Forbes Magazine has recognised it as “one of the most attractive beaches on the planet”. 

My Khe beach is an ideal and safe swimming destination for both adults and children at any time of the year, except during monsoon season. It is also a fantastic site to observe sunrise for early risers. 

Along with golden sand, My Khe beach is home to many beautiful hotels, restaurants, and world-class seaside resorts.

The Pink Church

Danang Cathedral also famously known as the Pink Church. Photo by ED JUNAIDI/Gaya Travel Magazine.
Danang Cathedral also famously known as the Pink Church. Photo by ED JUNAIDI/Gaya Travel Magazine.

Danang Cathedral, also famously known as the Pink Church, is located right in the middle of Da Nang city, at the corner of Tran Phu Street, about a 15-minute walk from the Dragon Bridge.

The locals call it Con Ga Church (rooster) because of the rooster weathercock at the top of the bell tower, a symbol associated with St Peter’s story in the Gospel about repentance and awakening.

This cathedral possesses a Gothic-style design and impressive architectural features with medieval stained glass windows, engraved motifs, rhombic-shaped arches and a replica of the Lourdes Grotto from France.

This beautiful church is open every day for visits, but travellers need to check regarding the times of the community mass times so as not to disturb.

Da Nang Museum of Cham Sculpture

Da Nang Museum of Cham Sculpture. Photo by ED JUNAIDI/Gaya Travel Magazine.
Da Nang Museum of Cham Sculpture. Photo by ED JUNAIDI/Gaya Travel Magazine.

This institution houses, preserves and displays the art and culture of the Cham people from the ancient kingdom of Champa. Da Nang Museum of Cham Sculpture is one of the first museums built in Vietnam by French archaeologists and experts from L’École Francaise d’Extrême Orient (EFEO).

It is located by the junction near the iconic Dragon Bridge right next to the Han River.

Da Nang Museum of Cham Sculpture. Photo by ED JUNAIDI/Gaya Travel Magazine.
Da Nang Museum of Cham Sculpture. Photo by ED JUNAIDI/Gaya Travel Magazine.

This museum is a must-visit when travelling in central Vietnam, especially when you are in Da Nang. It is a one-stop centre to learn a great deal about Cham culture, history and art through an impressive collection of more than 300 stone, terracotta artefacts, and sculptures dating back as far as the 7th and 15th century.

Da Nang Museum of Cham Sculpture is open every day from 7:00 a.m. until 5:00 p.m. Admission ticket is VND60,000 per person.

Han River Cruise

Han River Cruise takes us on a leisure boat ride along the Han River. Photo by ED JUNAIDI/Gaya Travel Magazine.
Han River Cruise takes us on a leisure boat ride along the Han River. Photo by ED JUNAIDI/Gaya Travel Magazine.

One of the best parts of our trip to Da Nang was the Han River Cruise. It takes us on a leisure boat ride along the Han River that runs through the city to enjoy the sights and sounds of the bustling city life along the river banks.

The cruise trip lasts about an hour and takes us pass many of the famous landmarks and tourist attractions in Da Nang such as the Dragon Bridge, Han River Bridge, Thuan Phuoc Bridge, and Love Lock Bridge.

The spectacular fire-breathing show from the Dragon Bridge. Photo by ED JUNAIDI/Gaya Travel Magazine.
The spectacular fire-breathing show from the Dragon Bridge. Photo by ED JUNAIDI/Gaya Travel Magazine.

The cruise is the best way to enjoy Da Nang’s gorgeous sunset. It departs around 8.30 p.m. and we were entertained by endless music blasted from the speakers. The music continues even when the cruise boat stops and drops anchor at the Love Lock Bridge to wait for the fire show from the Dragon Bridge.

An awe-inspiring sight begins sharply at 9:00 p.m. at the Dragon Bridge! The dragon head spectacularly comes to life as it spews flames and jets of water, bringing joy to tourists onboard the cruise as well as on the bridge. This is indeed a mesmerising and unique experience in Da Nang!

This fire-breathing show is happening three times a week; every Friday, Saturday and Sunday night. The cruise boat ticket is VND150,000 per person.

We were entertained by local dancers and non-stop music during the cruise. Photo by ED JUNAIDI/Gaya Travel Magazine.
We were entertained by local dancers and non-stop music during the cruise. Photo by ED JUNAIDI/Gaya Travel Magazine.

Where to stay

Danang Golden Bay

The spectacular view of the Han River from Danang Golden Bay Hotel. Photo by Danang Golden Bay.
The spectacular view of the Han River from Danang Golden Bay Hotel. Photo by Danang Golden Bay.

We stayed at Danang Golden Bay during our five-day stay in Da Nang. I was simply amazed by its 5-star hospitality and features. From its luxurious comforts, cleanliness and even its gold-plated sinks and infinity pool lined with golden marble, this property promises a luxurious stay.

The most remarkable feature, however, is the spectacular view of the Han River flowing into the ocean, including the 2-kilometre long Thuan Phuoc Bridge – the longest suspension bridge in Vietnam and one of Da Nang’s seven unique bridges – crossing it. The lights from the bridge reflect the water at night, creating a breathtaking glimmering effect, earning it the nickname “a strip of silk on Han River”.

Danang Golden Bay Hotel. Photo by Danang Golden Bay.
Danang Golden Bay Hotel. Photo by Danang Golden Bay.

The hotel’s Golden Luxury Spa is an amazing experience, with facilities like the Korean steam bath, volcanic rock room, steam room, ice room, sauna, and infra-red cave, perfect for rejuvenation and relaxation.

Furthermore, being Malaysian Muslims, Gaya Travel team was delighted to find a halal restaurant called Belanga Bay at the hotel. A Malaysian chef, Asmawi Kassim, prepares the Halal food here. To our delight, the restaurant even offers roti canai, teh tarik and nasi lemak!

Belanga Bay Restaurant. Photo by Danang Golden Bay.
Belanga Bay Restaurant. Photo by Danang Golden Bay.

Staying at Danang Golden Bay was indeed a unique and engaging experience that I would highly recommend to travellers visiting Da Nang.

Where to shop in Da Nang

  1. Son Tra Night Market
  2. Han Market

Where to eat in Da Nang

HALAL

  1. Belanga Bay Restaurant, Danang Golden Bay Hotel

NON-HALAL

  1. Ẩm Thực Xèo
  2. Madame Lân
  3. BẾP HÊN
  4. Mì Quảng Ếch – Bếp Trang

NO PORK NO LARD AND VEGETARIAN

  1. Rasoi Garden – Indian Restaurant Cuisine

AirAsia flies direct from Kuala Lumpur International Airport – Terminal 2 (klia2) to Da Nang daily. The flight is around 2 hours and 40 minutes.

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